“Marathon runners, on your marks…” for the first Paralympic marathon

Now one of the premier events in wheelchair sport, the wheelchair marathon was contested for the first time in the Paralympics at the 7th Games, in 1984 summer Games in Stoke Mandeville, after much lobbying by athletes. Nowadays, the wheelchair marathon is one of the blue ribbon events on the Games’ program but for many years it was considered potentially dangerous for the health of athletes with spinal injuries to compete in such a gruelling event. In 1984, men and women from all classes started at the same time and raced their way back to Stoke Mandeville. Australia picked up two gold medals in that first marathon – won by Alan Dufty in the men’s class 1C and Jan Randles in the women’s class 4.